PALMA IL VECCHIO was a close follower of both Ciiorgione and Titian and although he scarcely achieved more than mediocrity he fitted in so well with his period and painted such charming pictures that his name is remembered and linked for ever with those greater than he.
The Santa Conversazione is his favourite subject. It is even said that he was among the first to paint the Madonna and Child with attendant saints and donors on so large a scale-often full length .under the spreading trees of a lush landscape. Heavy tree trunks and dark foliage arc foils to the white veiled Madonnas and the pale skin tints of the Child who is usually depicted clambering about His mother's knee. The splendid St. Barbara (a kind of Pallas Athene figure) that he painted for the artillery company, whose patron St. Barbara is, is Palma's best-known picture. To her altar the warrior came before setting out to war and to her he returned thanks when
he got hack safely. She is a noblewoman, regal and firm. painted in sumptious robes of golden brown and green and has remained the type for St.. Barbara ever since.
But much more typical of Palma's work are his homely Madonnas holding the Child and engaged in conversation with the attending saints. They are richly simple and ordinary folk in whom motherliness is their supreme virtue.